It appears the Montana presidential primary will once again be relegated to irrelevance, at least on the Republican side, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Montana doesn’t have considerable influence on the national debate.
It was quite telling, in fact, that during Donald Trump’s April 27 foreign policy speech at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, D.C., the outsider candidate officially adopted “America First” as his potential presidency’s “major and overriding theme.”
That theme has been promoted over the last several years by none other than retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, who has made Bigfork, Montana, his home for many years while continuing to play a role in national policy debates through such organizations as Stand Up America, the Glacial Forum, the Legacy Group and “The Americans.”
It is therefore no coincidence that Vallely was named a few days after Trump’s major speech as chairman of Montana Veterans for Trump.
I had a chance to talk to Gen. Vallely last week just after the Indiana primary made Trump the “presumptive nominee” of the Republican Party, and it was obvious that Vallely believes Trump is indeed the right person to restore America to greatness.
Vallely confirmed that some time ago he had suggested to the Trump campaign that they use “America First” as the movement’s rallying cry.
“I published the ‘Americans First’ project about two years ago. This is what we believe in — the restoration of the republic and the Constitution. I don’t talk about conservatism because no one understands it anymore, so I stick with the ‘America First’ theme. The idea is to be American first before you are a Republican or Democrat or any other title.”
When you read Vallely’s many writings over the last several years, you will recognize many of the themes that have been adopted by Donald Trump in his populist rise to national prominence. Here is a sample from an essay titled “Americans First”:
“Failed leadership if not detected and dealt with in due time by the citizens of a free and secure Constitutional Republic would begin the demise and final death of that Republic and all but the failed self-serving political elites would end up with absolutely nothing of human value ...
“Economic destruction, job killing, the stealth demise of middle class America, the nation’s power grid at risk, the water supply for farming and cattle in the nation’s bread basket of California, family safety at risk from a politically fostered illegal alien invasion and national security being toyed with or at risk by downsizing America’s military deterrent forces — each action or all could come to be the result of failed leadership or much worse politically engineered by deception and or purposeful destruction of the Constitution and the Republic.”
These are the topics that have propelled Trump past each and every politician that has stood in his way. Vallely believes that is no accident, but a result of Trump actually listening to what the people want instead of telling them what the party wants.
“I really get upset when I hear the politicians on TV talking about party. They don’t understand that the American people don’t like our political parties for the most part.
“It’s a matter of loving your country, standing by your country, the Founding Fathers and the great success that America has had throughout the world. We need to get back to standing for the people, by the people and with the people.
“I’m for getting past the political parties. We don’t need them anymore. They don’t consult the people any more; they do what they want. We the people don’t feel like we are being represented any more.”
Vallely believes that Trump has been sold short by the so-called talking heads and GOP establishment regarding both his knowledge and his ability.
“We need leadership in America that has a vision about America tomorrow, what it can be and what it will be. Donald Trump certainly has the skills to do that and to make America great again,” Vallely said.
Regarding national security and foreign policy, which has been Vallely’s own area of greatest interest, the general said he believes that Trump can only improve on the dismal status quo.
“We have so many amateurs in our government now who have no background in foreign policy or strategy, and they are making the decisions. As an example, they don’t allow the generals and admirals to win the wars when we go into them.”
Although we did not discuss Trump’s declaration that NATO is obsolete, it is obvious from Vallely’s own writings that he agrees. Both Trump and Vallely understand that NATO was designed to oppose the former Soviet Union, whereas the greatest threat to Europe and the United States currently is terrorism. That’s why Vallely has written extensively about his ideas for “a new U.S. national security strategy to defeat the Global Jihad Movement.”
So what is the military strategist’s take on the fall campaign between Trump and the Democratic nominee, probably Hillary Clinton?
“I think he will sweep Hillary,” the general said without pause, but then he clarified that it might not be Hillary at all.
“One of the options we see is that Hillary may be indicted. I think (President) Obama will throw her under the bus, and I think there’s a good chance we will still see Vice President Biden as the Democratic candidate.”
Either way, Gen. Vallely sees Donald Trump as representing a new paradigm in American leadership that transcends politics, and obviously ruffles politicians’ feathers at the same time.
Vallely recalled a meeting he had with Egyptian Gen. el-Sisi in 2013, shortly after the el-Sisi’s forces had overthrown the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. El-Sisi had discussed his frustration with U.S. foreign policy under President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had both given explicit support to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi.
“El-Sisi said something very profound, which I have quoted many times since,” Vallely said. “This was shortly after we threw him under the bus, and the general said, ‘We don’t know why the U.S. always makes these decisions through a political prism, and not through a reality prism.’”
According to Vallely, Donald Trump is viewing the world through a “reality prism,” and that’s why he is connecting with voters who have grown weary of a “political prism” that has given them decades of bad trade deals, non-existent border security, eight years of stagnant wages, wars that are fought but never won, and a president who won’t even acknowledge the existence of radical Islamic terrorism.
It also explains why the “failed self-serving political elites” like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham are terrified of Trump, and will spend the next six months working tirelessly to destroy him.